Hyperthyroid Disease (Grave’s Disease)

a woman's neck

Hyperthyroidism, also known as thyrotoxicosis, is a hypermetabolic state induced by an oversupply of active thyroid hormone to the tissues of the body. Overproduction of the thyroid gland will produce extra levels of T4 and T3, or both, saturating the tissues. There are other physicians who believe that hyperthyroidism is caused by an insufficiency of the mineral iodine. Some practitioners resort to a treatment called thoiodosupplementation, a treatment that employs elemental iodine supplements until the thyroid gland and all other iodine-sensitive sites in the body have reached iodine sufficiency. Hyperthyroidism occurs much more frequently in women than men, as do most endocrine disease.

Grave’s Disease is an autoimmune hyperthyroid disorder caused by an abnormal protein (antibody) in the blood that stimulates the thyroid to produce and secrete access thyroid hormones into the blood.  The cause is often hereditary, especially in women, and almost always leads to a diffusely enlarged thyroid gland.  

In the case of Grave’s Disease, antibodies latch onto an enzyme essential for making T4, and keep it active and continually stimulated.  Conventional treatment is to suppress or remove the thyroid gland and then stabilize the patient on thyroid hormone replacements the rest of their life.

SYMPTOMS

The patient will experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Goiter
  • Tachycardia, palpitations, atrial fibrillation and widened pulse pressure 
  • Warm, moist skin.  Sensitivity to heat with excessive sweating
  • Eye signs including eye pain, photophobia and lid retraction
  • Tremor, nervousness, emotional instability, and increased activity 
  • Menstrual changes
  • Frequent stools, weight loss in spite of increased appetite as caloric requirement increase 
  • Hypertension may predispose to insulin-dependent diabetes, anemia, vitiligo, rheumatism, hepatitis or myasthenia gravis 
  • Loss of strength, muscle weakness, fine hair, lagging of upper eyelid, and separation of fingernail ends from nail beds 

Hyperthyroidisms can exhibit bipolar depression behavior as the TH levels drive their energy levels beyond their physical limits. Thyroid hormone testing is routine at psychiatric admission for suspected manic-depressive patients.  Iodine levels may drop to one-tenth of normal (and blood iodine increases). Check for potassium and calcium excess.

Cardiopulmonary problems may also emerge, including rapid pulse, shakiness, palpitations, atrial fibrillation, tachycardia at rest, and heart failure or coronary artery disease.

PATHOPHYSIOLOGY

There are mainly three ways in which an individual develops hyperthyroid disease.

  1. A TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) induced hyperthyroidism. 
  2. Induction of the disease by thyroid stimulators (Grave’s disease). 
  3. Overproduction of the thyroid gland.

CAUSES

There are many causes of hyperthyroidism, the most common being associated with diffuse enlargement of the thyroid, hyperactivity of the gland, or an auto-immune disorder. Infection, trauma, and pulmonary thromboembolism enhance the complications of Grave’s disease.

During the first half of the century almost every single U.S. physician used iodine supplements to treat both hyper- and hypothyroid disease.  There is still wide belief that hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is caused by a lack of sufficient iodine in the body.

When treating the thyroid gland it is wise to always assess adrenal function, as the two are directly connected. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Low levels of zinc and high levels of lithium may be a problem.

DIET

It is advised to increase consumption of goitrogenic foods to help inhibit thyroid function and ass garlic, ginger, turmeric for anti0inflammatory and liver detoxification activity. Eat more low-glycemic carbohydrates (vegetables, most fruits) and avoid white sugar and refined flour. 

SUPPLEMENT PROTOCOL

  1. ANTIOXIDANTS
    The effect of supplementation with a fixed combination of antioxidants (VITAMIN C and E, BETA-CAROTENE, GLUTATHIONE and SELENIUM) is justified and appears to be an appropriate adjunct therapy with drugs used for Grave’s disease. Dosage: As directed, but the Selenium dose should be 50-200 mcg daily. 
  2. IODINE and/or POTASSIUM IODIDE
    It has been reported that iodine is the treatment of choice for hypo- and hyperthyroid problems, with or without goiter.  Some doctors could get as high as a 90 percent cure rate with overactive thyroid by using what would be considered high doses of iodine daily.  Dosage: 6-30 mg daily, only under the supervision of an experienced and qualified health care practitioner. Doses of 1 mg daily will decrease the vascularity of the gland and increase firmness.  IODORAL tablets can be used under a physician’s supervision.
  3. BUGLEWEED
    This herb inhibits the effects of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and also inhibits the thyroid stimulating IgG antibody. These effects lead to reduction of thyroid secretion. Bugleweed inhibits T3 formation by inhibiting the peripheral conversion of T4 to T3.  Dosage: As directed by a qualified practitioner.
  4. MOTHERWORT
    This herb is mainly used for the cardiovascular symptoms such as tachycardia and palpitations. It has an anti-inflammatory action and is excellent in postpartum thyroiditis. Dosage: As directed by a qualified practitioner.
  5. ZINC
    Zinc is an important mineral nourishes the thyroid gland and is necessary for local T4 activity. Dosage: 30-60mg daily.  
  6. B-COMPLEX VITAMINS
    B complex vitamins are important needed to nourish the thyroid gland. Dosage: 25-100 mg daily.
  7. L-CARNITINE
    L-carnitine is believed to be a peripheral antagonist of thyroid hormone activity in some tissues. In one trial, doses of 2-4 grams daily prevented and reversed hyperthyroidism-related symptoms, including exerting a beneficial effect on bone mineralization.  
  8. VALERIAN
    This herb has a calming effect to ease the hyper nature of the nervous system. Dosage: As directed.
  9. GINSENG (ELEUTHERO)
    Eleuthero ginseng is known as an adrenal adaptogen herb. Ginseng can balance energy and can be an adrenal boost (taking stress off the thyroid gland). Dosage: 1 capsule AM and mid-afternoon.
  10. HAWTHORN
    This herb may help the cardiovascular symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism. Dosage: See package.
  11. TYROSINE and PHENYLALANINE
    Both of these amino acids are useful in thyroid function. Dosage: See a qualified practitioner.

See a qualified health care practitioner before attempting to treat this disease with non-drug therapy.

 

Hywood, A. Thyroid Disorders. Family Health Seminar Series, sponsored by Medi-Herb. March 15, 2004.

L-Carnitine- Monograph. Alternative Medicine Review, March 2005. 10(1): 42-47.

Marion, JB. Anti Aging Manual. Information Pioneers. S. Woodstock, CT., 1996

Vrca, VB, Skreb, F, Cepelak, I, et al. Clinical Chim Acta, 2004. (341): Pg. 55-63.

West, B. Iodine Fulfillment Therapy. Health Alert, December 2005. 22(12): 2-4.

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